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November 13th 2009 print

David Flint

Whitlam Redux

Terry McCrann points out the Rudd government is on the way to, or has already become, worse than Whitlam’s. For more than 30 years he says, the Whitlam government has been “the -- unsurpassable -- benchmark for bad government in Australia.” 

The Rudd government is a failure

A nation cannot expect great leadership all of the time. A Churchill, a Thatcher, a Reagan or a De Gaulle is just not the norm. Nor indeed is a Menzies, Curtin or Howard. While it is to be expected that the average leader will not be up to this standard, we are entitled to hope that the Australian people have not inadvertently elected a government worse than that led by EG Whitlam.

It was recently suggested that we now have a prime minister with the face and bearing – at least in public – of a parson, and the heart and soul of a dictator. By way of contrast, we have a leader of the opposition – a conservative opposition – of whom Alan Jones says that whenever he comes to a fork in the road, he turns left.

We have a media which, apart from some notable exceptions, seem to think they are still campaigning against John Howard. So they subject the government not to little but to almost no scrutiny. The contrast with their approach to the Howard government is glaring.

Even The Australian does not subject the Rudd government to the rigour they once applied to the Howard government over say, the AWB or asylum seekers. In the 2007 elections, The Australian preferred Kevin Rudd over John Howard. At least they do not feel locked into this.

But for most of the “serious” media who are far more sympathetic to the cause of asylum seekers than the public at large, why are they silent on the number of deaths of asylum seekers since Kevin Rudd relaxed the rules and thus the disincentives to come? If this had happened under John Howard the media would be full of it every day.

And yet there are moments of realism in the media. One was the Four Corners programme on 9 November, when the ABC allowed those who do not embrace unconditionally the theory that global warming is the consequence of manmade emissions. Now it is true the ABC probably did this to support its story about  divisions in the coalition.

But to do this they had to allow what they usually deny- a voice to those who just do not believe in anthropogenic global warming.

That is not of course the nomenclature today. Now that there is doubt that the planet is actually warming, “climate change” has been substituted for “global warming”. We heretics must not fall for this duplicity. Global warming it was and global warming it is.

Why we should accept this theory as infallible, as our Prime Minister demands, is not clear. His government has just been caught out – again – in exaggerating shamelessly about this to the Australian people. On present trends sea level rises seem likely to be on third of the government declared rate. And as everyone should know, the proposed ETS will have absolutely no impact on climate change.

This ETS will hand over control over the economy which equates with the sort of centrally planned state which was a Marxist dream. Why then does the Coalition leadership think that with some compromise this would be acceptable?  The Liberal Party should follow the National Party and totally oppose the ETS.

It is interesting that the most sceptical about the ETS are our farmers, and the most eager to endorse the schme are the intelligentsia. The usual carpet baggers are joining them, but they are of course driven by nothing more than self interest. If you went to almost any dinner party in the salons of Wentworth, a climate change denier would soon be given short shrift. This would be by people who would regard the farmers on Four Corners as red necks and hicks. But as with the emperor without clothes,  it is the so called unsophisticated who can see the obvious. 

In the meantime, Terry McCrann point out the Rudd government is on the way to, or has already become, worse than Whitlam’s. For more than 30 years he says, the Whitlam government has been “the — unsurpassable — benchmark for bad government in Australia.” He recalls that government’s “uniquely disastrous blend” of ideology, arrogance, poor administrative process, fiscal extravagance and simple ineptitude. 

Kevin Rudd went to the people with a line which has been shown to be untrue – that he is a fiscal conservative. How fortunate he was that the Howard government left the coffers full. Surely any future conservative government will never make that mistake again. John Stone more than once pointed out this error. Costello should have returned every cent to its owners – the people. John Stone argued this could be done through a two tier tax scale and the end of the remnant CGT.

The Rudd government is worse in one respect than the Whitlam government. It seems to decide most great issues not in its assessment of the national interest but on the basis of its spin value.  It panics easily, as it did over the bank guarantee – with disastrous consequences. As Steve Lewis points out it has squandered $2.85 billion since coming to office. Its stimulus package was a wasted opportunity to do something about the nation’s infrastructure.

When it has fails, as it did with the broadband plan, it is prepared to throw money at the issue without any cost benefit study. Its $12bn plan became a $43bn back of the envelope proposal. This involved a plan to seriously damage a national company, Telstra.

Terry McCrann is probably right. The government is at least as bad as the Whitlam government. It has had the very good luck of being able to ride on the achievements of its predecessors, especially the Howard government.  There will be no turnaround. It will be more of the same.